On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." (Luke 10:25-28)Note that the "expert in the law" - the scribe - was quoting Moses' statement in Deuteronomy 6:5. This statement by Moses is also detailed directly by Jesus, as quoted in Matt. 22:37-38 and Mark 12:30. This came from Deuteronomy 6:5.
This second element is from Leviticus 19:18, in the commandments revealed to Moses from the Supreme Being. Here is the full verse:
" 'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD." (Lev. 19:18)We can thus see the context in which Jesus said this. In fact, from Matthew we find that the "first and greatest commandment" ('Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind...') is connected to 'Love your neighbor as yourself":
Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matt. 22:37-39)So we find that the two instructions - to love the Supreme Being with all our heart, soul and mind; and love our neighbor as yourself - are connected.
How is loving God connected with loving others?
How is this related to others? Aren't others all around us? Why do we need to come to know others or be introduced?
This relates directly to identity. We must know who others are, just as we must know who we are.
Currently, we look around us and all we see are bodies. Moving flesh. But then suddenly someone dies and we still see the same flesh but no movement. All of the cells are still there. All the nerves are there. All the chemicals - and the neurotransmitters - are still there. Yet we say they are gone because that body shows no life. No personality. The life and personality has left.
Where did the life and personality go? We don't know because we cannot see this life or personality. All we can see with our physical eyes is the flesh.
In other words, if we identify others as flesh, we are not really seeing them. And since we are not really seeing them, we cannot truly love them.
It doesn't matter if we are feeding hungry children or helping old people cross the street. We are not loving them if we do not know who they are.
For example, let's say a sports car with tinted windows drives into a gas station. The gas station attendant can't see who is inside the car because of the tinted windows. So does the gas station attendant assume the car has no driver, and begin asking the car which type of gas it wants?
The gas station attendant would certainly assume there is a driver inside the car. He would knock on the window and wait for the driver to talk to him. In other words, he is not confusing the car with its driver, even though he cannot see the driver through the tinted windows.
It is the same with the physical body and the spirit-person inside. Just because we can't see the spirit-person inside the body doesn't mean that we are these bodies. It just means we cannot see into the dimension of the spirit-person with these physical eyes.
And in the same way that the gas station attendant would not begin speaking to the car as if it were a person, we cannot claim to love others when we are identifying ourselves and others as flesh.
And that is precisely what most of us do. We identify ourselves and others as physical bodies, so we think that taking care of their flesh is all there is.
This is not so, just as the gas station attendant cannot assume he is doing what the driver wants by putting gas into the car. Perhaps the driver just wants directions and has no money for gas, for example.
In the same way, if we do not know the spirit-person within the physical body, we cannot claim to love them. We cannot claim to even know who they are.
And just like the car driver and the car, what seems to be good for the flesh isn't always good for the spirit-person within.
But if a person comes to know the Supreme Being, such a person will automatically be able to see God's children for who they are. A person who is seeing into the spiritual dimension by virtue of a loving service relationship with the Supreme Being gains entrance into the "drivers" of these physical bodies.
Our spiritual eyes must be opened
We might compare it to taking an X-ray or MRI of a person's body. A doctor can take an X-ray and see the bones or tissues within. This is because he has special equipment to see with - the X-ray machine.
In the same way, seeing through the physical body and seeing the spirit-person within requires special equipment. It requires our spiritual eyes to be opened.
These can only be opened by the Supreme Being. They are the eyes of love that can only be awakened through a loving relationship with God.
Why? Why can't we see others? Why can't we see God?
Because we choose not to see others or see God. We made a choice: We wanted to be away from God. We wanted to do what we wanted - we wanted to enjoy life away from God. We wanted to live a self-centered life - the opposite of love.
So God created these physical bodies and produced an environment where we cannot see Him or others. All we can see are these physical bodies and physical world. All we can see is flesh.
It is like being in a movie theater. In a movie theater we sit down into our comfortable seats and the room goes dark. A large screen lights up and the sound system booms. All these effects focus our concentration onto the screen and the movie. Soon we forget there are people around us. We get lost in the movie and begin identifying with the characters in the movie.
For this reason, people get all wrapped up in movies. Even though the whole movie is a fake - it is not real life - people cry and have all sorts of emotions towards the characters in movies. Even though the movie set is fake and all the actors are pretending to be people they are not, movie-watchers still get involved in movies as if they are real.
This is because the whole arrangement - from the dark theater and big screen and booming sound to the real-looking set and makeup - is set up to trick us into becoming emotionally involved in the movie and forgetting our real lives for a few minutes.
The illusion of the physical world
God's arrangement in the physical world does the same thing. This physical world tricks us into thinking that we are these physical bodies and others are their physical bodies.
It is not unlike a dream. In a dream, we get emotionally involved, yet as soon as we wake up we realize it was just a dream and it wasn't real.
While the physical world is real in that it exists - it is not a figment of our mind as some profess - it is still temporary. It is like the movie set. The movie set is real, yes. But it is not the real place that it tricks us into thinking that it is.
In the same way, the physical world is not the permanent place we are tricked into thinking it is. It is a temporary place.
So we are not even seeing those around us for who they really are. We are not seeing their spiritual identities. How can we love someone that we cannot see or do not know?
We each have a unique spiritual identity. It is not as though we have these unique physical bodies, but inside we are just little puffs of smoke - as some portray in pictures or movies.
What we are not seeing is that each of us has a unique spiritual form. Each of us has a unique spiritual identity and a form that relates directly to our unique relationship with the Supreme Being.
This is why Jesus connects loving the Supreme Being with loving others. It has nothing to do with the modern interpretation that we have to love ourselves before we can love others - this is a proposition of self-centeredness. We have to know God before we can know others. And we have to love God in order to truly love others.
And certainly, if we understand that we nor others are these physical bodies, and we understand our connection with God, we can still care about their physical bodies. But we would care for their spirit-persons first. When we see others as they are, we realize that their physical bodies are temporary and their spiritual selves are eternal.
And if we see ourselves as we are - loving servants of the Supreme Being - and we care for our own spiritual well-being, we will naturally care for the spiritual well-being of others. This is the meaning of "love your neighbor as yourself."